Sunday morning, 26 April 2015, started quietly for pilot Lance Burns and crew, but it soon stepped up a notch when they had a call asking for assistance to search for a beacon that had activated east of Taihape.
For Nick McBride, a member of the Hutt Valley Tramping Club, it was a Sunday that didn’t quite go according to plan when he stepped on a log and promptly slipped off.
“I should have stepped over it,” said Nick, “but I didn’t, and the result was a twisted knee. I couldn’t walk or weight bear.”
As an exact GPS location wasn’t part of the tramping party’s personal locating beacon signal, the rescue helicopter crew had a slightly more challenging mission searching dense bush and rugged terrain in the remote location.
Nick’s tramping group spread out brightly coloured plastic bags and lit a fire to aid searchers. It was a red plastic bag being waved enthusiastically by one of the party, which was spied by the observant crewman and very soon the helicopter was hovering overhead.
“We then winched the on-board paramedic down the rescue hoist to assist the patient,” recalled pilot Lance Burns.
Nick’s Sunday ended in Palmerston North Hospital, but fortunately no surgery was necessary. Nick knows it would have been an extremely long and painful trip out of the bush without the rescue helicopter.